All My Relations

Indigenous sense of belonging and interconnectedness with nature is apparent in the expression “All my relations,” meaning “all living things.”

Many Indigenous cultures believe nature is “The Great Spirit”, or “God.”

Indigenous Prayer Flags~ photo credit Darin Larson

Within this belief system exists a deep respect of earth and all living things. Individuals actions have an accountability to both community and nature. Decisions and actions are considered in what is good for tribe, nature and all living things. 

Identity is intertwined intimately with nature. 

This belief is a strong contrast to western culture’s belief that land is ‘for extractions* of its resources’ with the perception of humans are separate from and above nature.

It’s an odd sort of hierarchy, when you think about it, because humans depend on nature to survive. 

( Indigenous Canada resource)

 Indigenous cultures understand this dependability, and the delicate balance required in this relationship for future generations to thrive. Decisions often consider 7 generations in the future, a signifiant number in their teachings.

( Please listen to One of my all time favourite songs “7” by William Prince. The first link is William introducing the song, singing live at the Roslyn, second link to William’s site has various videos with higher quality sound. https://www.youtube.com/williamprince)

In the last two years, many have rediscovered their connection to nature, finding it a reprieve and sanctuary during difficult times. This has brought some attention to humanity’s tentative relationship with nature, and a cry for positive change.

Moving slowly into a time of healing offers a unique opportunity to learn from indigenous teachings, to be respectful of all living things and nature.

Scientific discoveries in the last year of how nature bounced back from humans disruptive and destructive ways is remarkable. Check out this  recent educational enlightening documentary “the Year Earth Changed” to see how.

Painting nature’s landscapes is more than creating a lovely vista to me. Growing up surrounded by wilderness directly influenced me and contributes to my sense of “wholeness.”

We all have a connection to nature, but sometimes it is forgotten, neglected or silent.

Yet nature reminds us, we are not alone, or unsupported. It is here to nourish us in every possible way. 

Just like in any relationship renewal, there is an opportunity for positive change, understanding and respect. 

By sharing and illuminating this intimate nature- human relationship in my work, I hope you can feel it’s energy, nourishment, healing capacity,  and wonder. 

~ May you, and all my relations be well. May we be united moving forward into a loving and healthy future. 

P.S

I just completed the University of Alberta’s “Indigenous Canada” online 12 week course, taught from Indigenous perspective. I highly recommend the course, it’s tremendously informative & educational. 

New Work~

“Glow” 20×30 oil  $ 1,800.oo is a wonderful refresh to an earlier piece. I have been working hard developing colour tones, and wanted to include chunkier brushstrokes without the painting feeling heavy. It needed to feel soft and vibrant, with lots of movement. The work I do isn’t about having a template of style, it’s about what the scene calls for. This one needed to have a light feel, the power of it being in the sense of movement. 

“Buoy” new 8×10 oil, has such a story! I will just share that the title, “Buoy” has many meanings, “ to stay afloat” “floating device” “ life preserver” “ to cheer” “to bolster” “to embolden” “ to encourage” and “to strengthen”.

“Autumn Forest” or “ The Wise” 8×10 $550.oo is a new painting from a late afternoon wander in the woods last month. The whole forest was aglow and I know I will paint several small and large paintings from this recent joyful wooded walk. 

Active Recovery

People are reaching out with questions on proficiency, coping with challenging times, and fatigue. 

A common assumption is creating art may be a departure from facing reality. There’s this idea one closes themselves off in a studio, consumed by their passion, the world goes on without their knowledge, or engagement with it. 

Art is never therapy for me, nor is it escape. I apply other methods and tools for health and wellness. 

ART, for me, is a form of being present and aware. 

If that’s the case, then “how am I able to create prolificacy.. particularly  in these times?”

  1. Proficiency : It’s a mindset. 

Daily intention when I step to the easel with the perception It is the first painting I have ever done, and my last. 

This attitude invites focus on the present and willingness to learn with the enthusiasm of a beginner. Acting as though this is the last painting I ever create, teaches me to savour the experience.

2. Challenging times:

 Focusing on what is within your control helps. Many artists, including myself,  are faced now with being totally self represented and self supported. They are adapting to online sales, initiating their own promoting, marketing and being their own cheerleader. 

It’s a difficult road carrying on, no matter what you do, or what’s been necessary to do to make a living in the last 20 or so months. 

Building resilience and adaptability will be useful now and in the future. 

Learning to cope healthfully for what is appropriate for the individual, and the circumstance, is key. Reaching out to support networks and professionals for methods can be very useful. I like to think of it as gathering tools.

3. Fatigue : 

Firstly, Maintaining a balanced healthy lifestyle is important.

One way to cope with creative fatigue is a training tool I learned in endurance sport. That is, having a scheduled day of ACTIVE RECOVERY

For runners and triathletes, ACTIVE RECOVERY is a taking day off from regular training and racing. Instead of biking, running and swimming, athletes may participate in yoga or a non strenuous walk. It’s great for recovery, keeping body and mind engaged with activity. 

ACTIVE RECOVERY in the creative field can be playing with clay instead of paint, or taking photos on a hike. Name all the colours you see on your hike that you would squeeze on your palette. 

ACTIVE RECOVERY is a welcome departure from the pressure of creating and reconnecting with the joyful part of art. You might visit a gallery, explore other artists work, make crafts, or listen to music. Write a poem, read a book, start a journal. Years ago, I spent one day a week taking an online art marketing course. It can still be a productive use of your time.

IN endurance training, we incorporated one day a week to active recovery. You may want more than one day a week, adjust to your needs. 

~Similarly, incorporate one COMPLETE REST DAY in your routine. 

REST DAY for endurance sport suggests a day with as much rest as possible. No errands, housework, work, or training. It takes scheduling to attempt a full rest day, but it’s well worth it if you can manage it. 

I remember at the end of a full day at my office job, I would run errands, then spend the evening cleaning, doing laundry and cooking so I could relax the following day. 

REST DAY for creative work suggests just that. No creating, creative thinking, working, work calls, emails, client visits, etc. I even make an effort to refrain from creative conversation.

Working from home can make this all extra challenging, but it is up to you to set those boundaries. 

Healthy boundaries ensure a healthy long creative life.

~

What’s new? 

I have been experimenting with oil on paper, partly inspired due to lack of space in my new spot. IT’s still in the exploring stage, and I am having fun with it!! A extra bonus, these studies should boost my plein air skills.

ART CARDS have nearly sold out. I have two packages of WINTER cards, and two of SUNSET cards. Please email me to purchase. Each pack, including envelopes is $20. Please add 2$ per pack for shipping. 

New work sold this week! Paintings are off to Toronto and Colorado. Very exciting to see these paintings find their homes. 

The new home studio will be starting construction soon. I have been envisioning my studio view onsite. A year from now, I may be writing you from this very spot. I am so grateful!

Light & Colour in Nature

This is how it looks in the dark.

The light within this new painting illumines even in the shadows. 

Rising on a moonless night, you’ll glimpse it’s welcoming warmth, and feel the comfort of nature and her canopy overhead. 

Sometimes they surprise me. 

I visit this park often, and love the feel of light how it moves over me as I run thru the trees on soft earth scattered with autumn leaves.

I had a vision of oodles of dappled light & warmth for the painting. 

What emerged as I progressed is the strength of the shadows that create a beautiful cocoon feeling of being embraced by the forest. 

The bench, tucked away in the undergrowth is a reminder to rest, breathe it in, and allow nature to nurture. 

To discover how deeply connected humans are to nature, Peter Wohlleben’s “The Heartbeat of Trees” describes how we see colour and hear in nature. It’s a truly fascinating read!

It’s been a busy few weeks at the easel. I am excited to unveil two more new cheerful originals. They are filled with texture and vibrant colour!!

Who doesn’t enjoy happy snail mail?

This week I released a limited number of art cards for sale on social media. Response has been positive, with just a few packages left.

Packages of 4 cards & envelopes for 20$. ( either two of each image, or 4 sunset cards) Add 2$ for shipping. Please email me dawn@dawnbanning.com to purchase.

Enjoy!

Forest bath ~ 18×24 original oil    $1,330.oo

Flax and Canola 8×10 original oil   $550.oo

Lake at Sunrise 8×10 original oil    $550.oo

McMichael Exhibition

He was a master craftsman working in stained glass. She spoke in adoration of her creative Grampa, crediting him for setting her on a path of great love and appreciation for art.

Each birthday he would give her a generous sum with two stipulations. First, she was to invest in original art ( of any genre). Secondly, it had to be created by a woman. 

Why women, she wondered? Women often have disadvantages, he explained. They usually make less than their male counterparts, face exclusion or discrimination in the industry.

She wasn’t to purchase work just because it was made by a female. His instructions were to be discerning, collect what she loves and not settle for mediocrity in the work. “Collect the good stuff”

new 8×10 oil on canvas

Respectful of his gift and teachings, she began collecting art at a very young age. Now a woman with grown children of her own, her collection is vast and diverse. She still spends a generous sum each birthday on female created art.

We spoke of the disadvantages for female artists still exist around the world today. 

Artsy reports female artists are undervalued, making 37% less than men.  

In 2018 CBC reported women were paid less in all creative fields but dance. In fine art women averaged making 65% than male counterparts. 

These articles focus financial inequality, not all the disadvantages women continue to face. 

new work in progress

Historically, female artists in Canada often worked in the shadows of male artists like the iconic Group of Seven. A new exhibit at the McMichael Gallery titled “ Uninvited” features amazing female artists who lived and worked during the times of the Group.

The idea for the exhibit came about while “planning celebrations for the Group of Seven’s 100th anniversary in 2020. An exhibition honouring the Group’s all-male members. { On} Sept. 10, the McMichael open{ed} an exhibition honouring women who were not invited to become part of the Group. It’s a long list.”

While the men of the Group of Seven did invite several women to exhibit alongside them, none were invited to become part of the select club, even painter Anne Savage or sculptor Elizabeth Wyn Wood, whose vision and aesthetics were close to that of the Group.

The Uninvited project was stickhandled by the McMichael’s chief curator, Sarah Milroy. She assembled a remarkable list of 31 artists, some now famous and others still largely unknown, for the exhibition and the book, where they are profiled by a variety of scholars. More than 200 artworks, mainly from the 1920s and 1930s, are featured in the book and exhibition. There are also dozens of works by Indigenous women whose names are lost to history.” 

~McMichael weblink. 

The volume and diversity of work is astounding, I was captivated watching the video. Sarah offers insight into these incredible artworks that otherwise may go unnoticed. 

This creative group of spunky, trail blazing, intelligent and witty women are much to be admired alongside their incredible art.

My friend, and her Grampa would be impressed. 

Thanks to the McMichael for this eye opening exhibit, accompanying catalogue ( it’s on my wish list) and video. ( see you tube link).

Special thanks to my patrons, recent and long time collectors of my work, it’s a delightful privilege to be a part of your lives in art.

All work shown is available, please email me to purchase. I will post the new Forest painting completed next time.

Living Skies

We can never be bored if we just look up. 

The skies above hold so much vast and varied beauty. A continual moving display of fleeting light, drama. 

Atmosphere changes sound, like on this day of early morning overcast skies, with sunrise on the horizon. Softening noise, it adds peacefulness to a day in a way that I love. Snowfall can immediately do this, too. I remember early mornings living on the prairies, knowing the moment I woke up if it had snowed overnight, just from the sound. You could feel it. 

Appreciation of the sky may come from being born in the Land of the Living Skies. When you grow up in nature, the sky can be understood as ultimate nourishment offering of necessary light and water. 

It will never fail to delight and beckon me.

It’s a tremendous challenge to paint light, and set the tone of atmosphere. On this particular day, there was no storm, nor rain. Waiting for my cycling friends, I sat on my bike and watched the sunrise on the horizon as the sun broke thru the overcast skies.Those layers of clouds and light are fascinating in how quickly they change, and how much can be felt in those moments. It’s hopeful, and surprising. 

The day is unveiled to us in moments. 

The next new painting released today is a study in contrast and light. This painting is filled with positive symbolism, I will leave you to draw your own conclusions. 

What drew me in this scene was the beautiful afternoon light reflected in the farm buildings paired with what could be considered stark contrasts in the land. The promise of spring hint in the nutrient rich soil, and bit of snow lay softly on the earth. 

The unified farm buildings stand surrounded by lovely forest. The sky, so brilliant blue is a bold majority of the painting. 

The daisy painting is complete this week too!

I would love to hear all your comments on the new work. Please feel free to email me, dawn@dawnbanning.com or email to purchase.

I don’t have much storage space where I am living now, I may have to rein in my creative productivity, while waiting for the work to sell.

~

New“Sunrise on the Horizon” 18 x 24 original oil $1,330.oo

Farm and Blue Sky” 11x 14 original oil $770.oo

Daisies 16×20 original acrylic and oil.

New Work

Sunlit Clouds over Lake began with a desire to infuse the painting with more light.. and became much more. 

Displayed in a room with very little natural light, I wondered, could I paint it as thou there were natural light? And how would that look? 

Not one square inch was left untouched. The entire painting evolved in a sort of inspired fever. I didn’t leave the studio area until it was complete, worried I would lose the flow. 

I am so happy with the results!! The ribbon like clouds and light infused sky have a balance I worked hard to achieve. 

The second new release painting is an area I frequent often. I visit these beautiful trails nearly every day, either on foot, or on bike and often post scenic photos of the pathways and landscapes along it. It’s an extensive network of nearly 100k of old rail trails we are fortunate to have nearby. Morning’s here are my favourite, it’s the perfect time where light filters thru the trees which are teeming with birds and butterflies. It is truly soul enriching. 

The third painting is in progress, and the first daisy painting I ever did. The daisy paintings were extremely popular and this first one felt important to keep. 

With storage space at a minimum now, I needed to make a decision about it. It was an emotional test to put a brush to it, attempting to make the painting current without compromising the early work. Thankfully, it’s feeling bright and cheerful, by next post, should be complete.

NEW: 

Sunlit Clouds over Lake” 4 ft x 3ft Original oil  $4,780.oo

“Trail”  16×20 Original Oil $1,130.oo

Thank you to the new clients who purchased SKY and sent photos of the painting in their home!

How to Display Art

“If the work is to be displayed at eye level. Who’s eye are we going by?”

If you have ever worried about rules for displaying artwork, you aren’t alone. It’s one of the most common questions we hear. 

Instead of being fearful of ‘getting it wrong’, my advice is to be playful and have the collection displayed to suit your individuality, just like your collection itself.

I have included client photos of their collections to see how you can vary and have fun with your displays.  

There are some basic guidelines, but they are meant to be adjusted according to the art and the space. Be free to variation for your specific needs.

One popular basic design guide prevents people from displaying work too high, a common mistake. This guide suggests displaying art 57 inches from floor level to centre of the work, which is the average human eye height.

I have never applied this guide, instead, I focus on the art itself first, it’s composition, size, light it requires, and where it will most be viewed from. For example, from sitting height, standing, or passing by in a hallway.

Next, I consider the room, and what the art will be in ‘relationship to’, such as  furnishings, windows, doorways, etc. Connection to these ‘relationships’ helps to bring cohesiveness to the room, and keep it from feeling stale or overly structured.

In an example below, I show how these two large paintings work together. Coloured lines show where the eye travels and how the sky ‘melds’. Normal rule dictation would indicate these paintings should be aligned either on the top or bottom of the pieces. This works better for ease of immersing into the work, and gives the a grounded feeling as you approach the work. Remember corners will give the illusion of unique perspective. 

Another example, my work shown with Audrey Banning’s painting completed at age 4. I love this little vibrant painting of hers showing excellent colour and composition. These two paintings have cohesiveness because of colour similarity and human elements, the canoe in my painting, and the house in Audrey’s. The yellow line shows how I have adjusted heights to pair the horizon lines in each piece.

I haven’t placed them evenly on the bottom, or on the top of the panels, instead I considered the composition and the lines within each piece, where the eye would automatically go.

The wood elements of Marc’s furnishings bring a sense of the earth and anchors this corner display. Shown with Al Pace pottery, stone carving by Jim, bowl by Michael, make a lovely combination of handcraft and art.

 Architectural digest conveys an excellent example of a multi collection that isn’t overbearing, and ideas on how to display unframed work. See the link here

With your gathered knowledge you can orchestrate your experience with the art and how you engage with it in your spaces.

New on the easel below ~ Sunset 8×10 oil on board $550.oo

Creative Conditioning Movement, Mediums & Surfaces

In the last year, I have been wrestling with internal and practical dilemmas. During challenging times, healthy business practice suggests implementing change, either in practice or career. It’s also wise to refrain from investing in supplies and creating with plenty of inventory available. 

If I returned to painting, I’ve thought about how it would unfold. Conclusions focus on feel more than visual concept. It’s always been my mission to improve with each canvas, but a return would require change in work, methods, perhaps genres and mediums. 

The work needs to be current, unique, and relevant in a competitive market, fragile from world circumstance. 

Resurgence needs to be brave.

Desire is to produce a series of work that taps into emotional strength, and simplicity in design.

Playful, loose texture that challenges rigidness of concept.

I began by creating small compositions experimenting with paint on paper, paper canvas, and canvas, testing acrylics, water mixable oils, and heavy body acrylics, or combining all three. It’s sparked ideas making the transition back exciting and bold. 

Every medium is unique, colour palettes differ from each other, how they mix, and respond to surfaces. Process is all about exploring medium behaviours and how to make them do what I want them to. It’s also a physical and creative challenge. In order to limit tightness of shoulders and brushstroke, posture needs to be relaxed.

In order to achieve this, I set into motion several goals. Physical activity before painting specifically to free up posture, creativity, and build confidence. Paint without reading glasses to prevent fussiness in detail. Work on two easels at once in two different mediums. It’s super challenging, and speeds up evolution to high quality work. It’s a kind of creative conditioning similar to athletics.

With two active easels, I move from one medium to another, with time limits on each. With strict rules to not fix mistakes, I carry on to the next paper or canvas. 

A recent project requirement is practice in plien air, so smaller work needs to have that quick study feel. The tiny 10 min paintings are rough, freeing and humbling. 

The work in acrylic and raw sketches transfer to the work in oil, giving it a fresh uninhibited quality. The energy produced is happily bouncing around the walls of my new workstation. Hope you can feel it too.

“Path to the Sea” 8×10 oil Commission/ SOLD

~

Please email to comment or purchase original work. Thanks! d

The Art Event

Unlike high def  TV or photography, we don’t see our surroundings in sharp detail at all times. 

Direct field of vision focuses on where attention is necessary and what captures interest, preventing information overload.

External stimuli is constantly changing with light, weather, sound, etc. Eyesight ability, perception of colour, shape, contrast, light, colour, and experience all play a part in how we interpret our environment. 

Perceptions of surroundings form while censoring information that isn’t necessary. 

This is why I feel painting can mimic the feeling of being immersed in a scene that is unique from photography.

This kind of experience can be created by applying soft edges and clear focal points. Impasto ( directional & thick)  brushstrokes offer a sense of movement. Blurred negative spaces give the eye an opportunity to rest.  Artists can diffuse the ‘noise of a scene’, giving the viewer space to be absorbed, feeling as thou they are participating and moving within the landscape.

Art becomes an event. 

A photo may capture a “still” moment in time. A painting may reach for time in “transition.” A fleeting sense of light and evolution can be expressed in 3 dimension with paint layering. “Good art” doesn’t necessarily mimic photography. Good art offers experience.

Even hyper realist painters purposefully direct the viewer, and include areas for the eyes to rest. 

 Viewing an original painting in different light, times of day, it will evolve, and change before your eyes. This is where it separates itself from flat prints lacking dimension. Without the boundary of reflective glass, it can be displayed where it will capture and express light.

Safely viewing original art in person, whether it be in museums, galleries or art studios, instead of asking what it looks like, observe where it leads you, and how you feel. 

“Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us.”Roy Adzak

“My art’s more than art imitating life, it’s art mirroring life.” Robin Antar

P. S.

The SKY painting has created alot of buzz on social media recently. A late afternoon summer day, the time of day created darker shadows in the sky, surprisingly, no rain. The work invites you to explore light, transparency and direction. You can watch the light change within the painting in your space, as you see in the photo. It will evolve from brilliant, to dusk, to a moonlit feel. It was super challenging to paint. I wanted to include the geometric feel in composition. Triangular shapes balance the strong central focal. It is painted in a more realistic design to balance the singular composition. Trees at the bottom are meant only to provide you a sense of where you are in the space and offer a sense of grounding. There is plenty of texture, so it isn’t at true departure of my usual work. I don’t consider myself a ‘style’ painter, rather I adjust what the scene calls for. In this instance it required fine balance of softness and strength. 3 ft x 4 ft original oil $4,780.oo

Two more paintings gathering great response recently on social media are:

“Rising Sun” ( Canoe)  16×20 $1,130.oo

And “ Mist” 30×40 $3,200.oo   Both paintings invite the viewer to participate in the landscape in unique ways, boldly and softly, all are welcome.

Moving Forward

Morning run August 2/2021

“You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward.” R. Bennett.

What’s new with you and how is life where you are?

In the last few months, I have moved two households in two different provinces. 

During the month of May I worked on house renovations in preparations for selling our home. The unexpected call to move Dad came an hour after selling our home. I arrived in Saskatchewan 6 days later. With quarantine and covid protocols, I was gone for 5 weeks.

Privileged to assist my Dad with his transition to a nursing home in Saskatchewan, it was interesting to see his selections of things to keep. What we surround ourselves with, especially in our winter years, downsizing for the last time in life, is telling. What do we value, and what brings a sense of comfort, of home? His choices were his true loves. Family photos, cards & letters, music, his guitar, books and art. He easily let go of the rest.

Dad ~July 2021

“The pictures really make it home” nurse Maya said. In full agreement, I feel they are a crucial part to our well being. Pictures are the first impression when we enter a room. They create our views, and set the tone of feeling in a room like nothing else can. 

Original Art- Dawn, Woodwork Marc

 It’s in our nature to scan perimeters when first entering a space. A internal survival instinct has us seeking the room for threats and nourishment. We automatically look for for natural light, for windows and exits. Initial focus isn’t furnishings, floors, or fixtures, we look at the walls.

Art ~ Dawn Banning~ Photo Bryan Mierau ~ Woodwork Marc Banning

 Art can create a powerful emotional impact offering comfort, sanctuary, a feeling of safety. “Views” of nature are crucial to our health, and in last stages of life, I discovered this is what many choose as their most valuable possessions. Walking the halls adorned in beautiful nature art of Dad’s new home, personal rooms reflected more nature views in paintings, among family photos and plants.

In times of chaos and disruption, we need familiar natural views to help bring a sense of calm in the storm.

Like my Dad, I too, have downsized considerably. We moved from our home to a rented townhouse,  in anticipation of eventually building a home. We chose our selections of what to keep carefully. It is such a good exercise in letting go, and discovering what matters.

These recent transitions are not without a sense of loss. Letting go of the last things in my parents home is an emotional experience on many levels. Donating much and sharing with those in need honoured my parents legacy of generosity.

Packing Dad’s home June 2021

I arrived in Ontario two weeks ago straight into our own move.

In my own home, letting go of things wasn’t as difficult as saying goodbye to my studio. It’s always been more than a room to me, built with love by Marc. I felt more of a sense of home, than any other room in the house. I am so grateful to have cherished and made use of this amazing place.

Lack of my own studio space, brings an odd feeling of being untethered. This too, holds great lessons in how I move forward. Growth and change can be uncomfortable, but also beautifully freeing.

It has been months since I picked up a brush to paint. It will take time to find a creative space physically, and emotionally. It’s time for rest and renewal.

August 2021 Morning ride

With storage full of original art, it’s not entirely feasible to create more until the current work sells. So thankfully, there is no rush to dive in without contemplation and restoring energy first.

Questions of value and how I am best of service to you, what that work looks like in the future, swirl in my mind and heart as I move forward.

Do I maintain a lifetime pursuit of excellence in art, in order to share with the world, or will that be a private endeavour from now on? Do I reinvent, or change careers like many artists affected by the pandemic? Will it be enough to enjoy other ways to expand and explore my creative skills?

Ideas have been percolating as I pack boxes and paints. I’ll share more of this in the future. 

In the meantime, if you are considering owning an original, please get in touch, I have a great selection of work available.

Your views await.

~ Dawn